If it seems like you're constantly struggling to find and retain talent, it might be that not all of the blame lies with the applicants. It might be time to refine your search process.
Finding solutions to some of golf's most pressing issues, like those related to labor, requires a unique way of thinking. Solving golf's labor issue, says former superintendent Tyler Bloom, is the result of a formula that includes matching the right applicant with the right job at the right golf course under the right superintendent. It's a process Bloom calls workforce development, and he is willing to stake his future on it.
"It's more than compensation. It's about making (employees) feel like they are part of something bigger," said Bloom. "It's about designing a workplace culture that includes defining and setting goals. It's about training and spending time with people, and getting them involved with associations and educational opportunities. You have to make people feel like they are part of a solution."
Bloom, 33, had been superintendent at Sparrows Point Country Club in Baltimore for six years, but he has been working on the side to help superintendents find new jobs and new employees for much longer. His services are in such high demand that in April, he resigned from Sparrows Point and moved his family back to his native Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, to pursue helping superintendents build teams. Teams that last more than a single golf season.
"I started getting calls from superintendents three years ago about workforce development," said Bloom, the principal of TBloom LLC. "Finally, I thought 'I need to start a true business model and see where this goes. This is the perfect time to reframe my career."
In his new venture, Bloom uses the Predictive Index talent-optimization tool to help superintendents develop a sustainable workforce development model by creating a workplace culture focused on developing staff then identifying the right candidates to fill those positions.
Bloom developed a template for attracting labor when he was superintendent at Sparrows Point. He worked with the Baltimore public school system to identify potential employees.
"The golf course was around five high schools," said Alicia Fales, supervisor of the school to career transition program for Baltimore public schools. "He developed a training process and put them to work. He also participated in our career-development activities and mock interview process for students.
"I think he had 15 interns from our program through the years."
This spring, he was working on a program just like that with Paul Stead, superintendent at Kennett Square Golf Club in Pennsylvania when the virus hit.
It's more than compensation. It's about making (employees) feel like they are part of something bigger. It's about designing a workplace culture that includes defining and setting goals. It's about training and spending time with people, and getting them involved with associations and educational opportunities. You have to make people feel like they are part of a solution.
"We have a pretty serious labor situation," Stead said. "He was starting to lay the groundwork for his high school internship program. We were just starting to get that off the ground. He already had contacts for all the high schools in a 10-mile radius. He was very organized in showing us how we could move forward.
When he was an assistant superintendent at Sunnybrook Golf Club in Pennsylvania, Bloom started helping superintendents update resumes and prepare for job interviews.
One might wonder how a 25-year-old assistant who had never been a head superintendent felt qualified to help experienced greenkeepers manage their careers.
"I started it out of necessity as a side hustle, because I needed to make some extra money as an assistant," Bloom said, laughing.
Internships at Merion, Southern Hills and Muirfield under names like Matt Shaffer, Russ Myers and Paul B. Latshaw, respectively, certainly helped, as did a stint at Oakmont for John Zimmers.
"I was fortunate that I had some excellent mentors. I was exposed to a lot at an early age that helped me relate to people," he said. "Pretty soon, it took off on a referral basis. It just happened naturally."
Bloom warns that his company is so much more than a quick fix for short-term staffing needs.
"You have to understand that if leadership personalities are misaligned, or your business strategies and how you treat people are misaligned, then you're wasting your time with me," he said. "If you’re not going to follow my recommendations, then I don’t feel like I can bring the value I am capable of delivering, which is how to build a sustainable recruiting process."